NOAA Air Resources Laboratory

Quarterly Activity Report

FY2013 Quarter 4

(July - September, 2013)

 

Contents

 

Dispersion and Boundary Layer

1. 2013 PC HYSPLIT Workshop

2. Joint Dispersion Modeling System Released

3. Project Sagebrush

4. Birch Creek Valley Study

5. Convective Initiation Project

6. Wind Forecast Improvement Project

7. Consequence Assessment for the Nevada National Security Site

8. Support for Experiments on the NNSS

 

Air Quality

9. National Air Quality Forecasting Capability

10. NASA's DISCOVER - AQ Project

11. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

12. Ammonia Emissions from Fertilizer Application

 

Climate

13. FOCAL - Alaska Study

 

ARL 4th Quarter Publications

Awards, Honors, Recognition

Outreach


 

DISPERSION AND BOUNDARY LAYER

 

1. 2013 PC HYSPLIT Workshop

A 3-day HYSPLIT workshop was given to 25 attendees from September 24-26, 2013 at the National Center for Climate and Weather Prediction (NCWCP) in College Park, Maryland. The workshop focused on the use of the August 2013 release of the HYSPLIT dispersion model for the PC and Mac and its Graphical User Interface (GUI). This was the first time the workshop was held at the NCWCP and overall the facilities were well received. Participants included researchers and operational dispersion modelers from as far away as Indonesia, Australia, and Argentina. Workshop training materials are available. glenn.rolph@noaa.gov

 

2. Joint Dispersion Modeling System Released

After extensive development and testing by NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) and NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R), a new web-based dispersion modeling system was successfully installed at the NOAA Web Operations Center (WOC). This system provides NWS forecasters with the ability to first simulate a release of a hazardous chemical to the atmosphere, using the extensive scenario-based source term configuration of the Areal Locations of Hazardous Atmospheres (ALOHA) model developed by OR&R and the EPA, and then to simulate the resulting plume, using the HYSPLIT atmospheric transport and dispersion model developed by ARL. Based on user input, the ALOHA model creates a time-varying source term that is used by HYSPLIT for transport and dispersion calculations. The system also has menu-driven capabilities to simulate the release of other hazardous pollutants to the atmosphere, such as smoke and radiological contaminants. A series of webinars is being planned by ARL and OR&R to familiarize NWS forecasters with the new system and its required and optional inputs. glenn.rolph@noaa.gov

 

3. Project Sagebrush

ARL's Field Research Division (FRD), along with assistance from ARL's Special Operations and Research Division (SORD), prepared for Project Sagebrush. Beginning in October, Phase 1 of the project will take place at the tracer release facility located at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The facility has established sampling arcs extending out to 3200 m from the release point, but these arcs have generally not been used in many years. The arc roads were inspected to ensure they are still usable and that the surveyed sampler locations at 1 degree intervals were still visible. For Project Sagebrush, tracer samplers will be placed at 3 degree intervals on five arcs.

 

A NEPA Categorical Exclusion for the project was completed in coordination with the Department of Energy in Idaho and the INL site contractor. Inspections by experts in local sensitive wildlife species and archeological artifacts were completed as a requirement for NEPA approval. The reporting of the amount of tracer gas (SF6) used during the field experiment will be provided to NOAA to comply with federal greenhouse gas reporting requirements.

 

Refurbishing was completed on the 160 bag samplers that will be placed on the arcs. FRD also has ten Trace Gas Analyzers (TGAs) that provide fast-response measurements of concentration fluctuations. However, only six of these are still in working condition. The meteorological instrumentation that will support the project includes the NOAA/INL Mesonet, sonic anemometers, sodars, a 915 MHz radar profiler, and a GRAW radiosonde system. Many of the sonic anemometers, some provided by Washington State University and collocated with fast-response infrared gas analyzers, have been installed at different levels on a 61 m tower near the tracer release point.

 

The University of Tennessee Space Institute delivered its twin-engine Piper Navajo aircraft for the project. The aircraft was fitted with a TGA. FRD's Rick Eckman will be operating this TGA as the aircraft passes through the tracer plume at various downwind distances and altitudes. kirk.clawson@noaa.gov

 

4. Birch Creek Valley study

Phase 2 of the Birch Creek Valley Study ended, and much of the instrumentation was removed and deployed for Project Sagebrush. Some preliminary analysis of the data has been completed but a full analysis will await consolidation of all the measurement data into a database. dennis.finn@noaa.gov

 

5. Convective Initiation Project

An initial workshop for the Convective Initiation project was held in Oak Ridge, TN in early September. It included attendees from the National Weather Service, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Severe Storms Laboratory, and the University of Alabama, as well as staff from the ARL divisions. FRD's involvement in the project will be related to evaluating model skill in forecasting convective initiation, with a particular focus on land-surface and boundary-layer parameterizations. A postdoctoral associate will be hired to assist with the modeling effort. Ideally this associate will be stationed at FRD, but either ATDD or ARL Headquarters are also possibilities depending on the pool of applicants. ARL is also requesting core hours on NOAA high-performance computers to run model simulations of convective initiation. Some of the modeling may be based the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model run by the Global Systems Division at the Earth System Research Laboratory. richard.eckman@noaa.gov

 

6. Wind Forecast Improvement Project

FRD completed an analysis of wind data collected at three sites in Texas during WFIP, a wind-energy study sponsored by the Department of Energy. A short report summarizing this analysis was prepared for inclusion as a section in the final overall Wind Forecast Improvement Project report. The analysis included seasonal variations in sensible heat and momentum fluxes, estimation of the value of the exponent in the wind speed power law, and estimation of the errors associated with using logarithmic wind speed profile relationships and surface flux measurements to predict hub height winds. Flux data from near-surface sonics were used to examine the wind profiles as a function of atmospheric stability and compare the observed profiles with expected profiles from boundary-layer theory. Values for the displacement height and roughness length in these relationships were determined using a probabilistic regression technique. richard.eckman@noaa.gov, Dennis Finn

 

7. Consequence Assessment for the Nevada National Security Site

The Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration's (DOE/NNSA) Nevada Field Office (NFO) Consequence Assessment (CA) was tested using the new ARL/SORD Weather Operations Center (WOC).The test was successful and the DOE/NNSA NFO consequence assessment is now conducted from the WOC. All NFO Emergency Response plans and procedures are being updated to reflect this change. This move improves IT support for CA equipment, faster access for CA team members, improved work space and display capabilities, improved access to all SORD weather assets, and the potential for enhanced/easier off-hours support. walter.w.schalk@noaa.gov

 

SORD participated in an emergency response exercise as the Consequence Assessment Team for the NNSA Nevada Field Office. The exercise was conducted on the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). In this exercise, SORD provided site specific weather data and weather forecasts, and were ready to generate "what-if" scenarios based on the worst case event scenario for the facility involved. The exercise event was a suspicious package in a van near an experimental facility.This exercise did not require the radiological or chemical plume modeling component of the Consequence Assessment Team.However, SORD did participate in determining the safe standoff distance from the explosive.In addition, SORD was requested to determine the safe standoff distance due to an explosion of the gasoline in the fuel tank of the van. Ironically, the explosive properties of gasoline were found to be a much greater issue than the explosive device.The explosive property of one gallon of gasoline was found to be equivalent to 68 pounds of TNT.SORD's Rick Lantrip was the Duty Forecaster and assisted in looking up information about the properties of gasoline.SORD also performed its role as Weather Subject Matter Experts.SORD's Kip Smith participated in the drill as a Drill Controller and Evaluator for the Consequence Assessment Team.james.s.wood@noaa.gov, Walt Schalk, Rick Lantrip, Kip Smith

 

SORD also participated in an emergency response drill as the Consequence Assessment Team for the NNSA Nevada Field Office.The drill was conducted on the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).In this drill, SORD provided site specific weather data and weather forecasts, and generated plume plots based on the worst case event scenario for the facility involved. The drill event was a transportation accident involving a forklift and a hazardous chemical.SORD participated in determining the safe standoff distance from the hazardous chemical spill.Oddly enough, the chemical involved in the incident did not appear in the dispersion tool databases used by DOE.However, there was standing water and the chemical reacts with water to produce other hazardous chemicals.These chemicals were in the dispersion tool's database and were subsequently modeled.SORD also performed its role as Weather Subject Matter Experts.SORD Director, Walt Schalk, participated in the drill as Facilitator for the Consequence Assessment Team. kip.smith@noaa.gov, Rick Lantrip, Walt Schalk

 

8. Support for Experiments on the NNSS

SORD provided enhanced weather support for a non-proliferation experiment conducted on the NNSS.This support included weather forecasts and a lightning watch focused on the experiment location. In addition, a radiosonde balloon was released to collect upper air data. The balloon collected data to about 27,000 meters.These activities are necessary to provide information for use and analysis in the experiment set-up and execution, and for the safety of the personnel.This support was critical to the preparation of the experiment, as monsoonal moisture was approaching the NNSS which could generate thunderstorms with cloud to ground lighting strikes and rain.The area had recently experienced heavy rains and lightning.Data were assembled and distributed to the principal investigator post-experiment.Dr. Steven Fine, NOAA ARL Director, participated in D-day activities at the experiment site and met the experiment Test Director and the DOE/NNSA/NFO Program Manager.james.s.wood@noaa.gov, Walt Schalk, Kip Smith

 

AIR QUALITY

9. National Air Quality Forecasting Capability

Tim McClung, Chief of NWS Science Plans Branch, announced at the Annual Forecaster Focus Group Meeting that the National Air Quality Forecast Capability for the operational predictions of ground-level ozone and the experimental prediction of fine particulate matter would be officially re-instated. This was important news for the ARL Air Quality Team, in that they will continue to evaluate and improve data and computer models used to inform forecast models run operationally by the NWS. pius.lee@noaa.gov

10. NASA's DISCOVER-AQ Project

From September 1-30, ARL participated in NASA's DISCOVER-AQ (Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from COlumn and VERtically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality) field study in the Houston metropolitan area, under a grant from the University of Texas Air Quality Research Program. The DISCOVER-AQ study used aircraft research flights over the Houston area to improve the interpretation of satellite observations to diagnose near-surface conditions relating to air quality. The study was designed to further NASA's goals to study the Earth from space in order to increase fundamental understanding of air pollution transport and distribution and to enable the application of satellite data for societal benefit.

 

Several ground measurement stations were deployed across the Houston metropolitan area to provide surface data to supplement and compare with data collected during aircraft overflights, and to compare with concurrent column abundance measurements at several times throughout the flight days. ARL scientists deployed sensors at two ground sites, at Galveston and Manvel, TX, due south of Downtown Houston. Measurements collected at Galveston included NO, NO2, NOY, SO2, and O3. Measurements collected at Manvel were for NO2. The instrumentation was thoroughly tested, evaluated, and calibrated in ARL's chemical laboratory prior to the study. The instrumentation ran continuously in the field through the month of September.

 

The surface observations will be used to relate column observations to surface conditions for aerosols and key trace gases; characterize differences in diurnal variations of surface and column observations for key trace gases and aerosols; and examine horizontal scales of variability affecting satellites and model calculations. Expected outcomes of DISCOVER-AQ include improved forecasting ability for current air quality conditions; assessment of air quality for purposes of attribution to specific causes; and improved estimation of emissions which undergo constant change. winston.luke@noaa.gov, Xinrong Ren, Paul Kelley

 

11. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The 3rd year of the mercury modeling work under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has begun, examining the consequences of alternative future emissions scenarios.  A first step has been to identify and begin to obtain alternative emissions scenarios to be used in the analysis. In addition, a new type of simulation has been developed in which the entire global mercury emissions inventory is modeled simultaneously. An advantage of this type of simulation is that an entire full-inventory "answer" can be obtained in 3-4 processor days (using a 2.5x2.5 degree Eulerian grid) , as opposed to ~500-1000 processor days required to obtain the detailed source-receptor results using standard source locations and interpolation. A disadvantage is that detailed source-receptor information is not produced in the "all in one" simulation. Another disadvantage is that the spatial resolution of the simulation is significantly degraded (e.g., plumes from large point sources are not well characterized). However, for investigation of chemical mechanisms and other process-related phenomena, this type of simulation is proving useful, and a series of such simulations has been carried out. It is not intended that these simulations will replace the more explicit and extensive source-receptor simulations, but that they will serve as a complementary analytical tool. Initial experiments have shown that single-processor 1x1 degree global Eulerian grid HYSPLIT-Hg simulations are not practical -- e.g., a one-year simulation using a single processor would take on the order of one year to complete. Initial steps have been taken to implement parallel processing functionality within HYSPLIT-Hg using OpenMP. mark.cohen@noaa.gov

 

12. Ammonia Emissions from Fertilizer Application

Preparations continued for the 2014 ammonia emissions field study in Illinois. Laboratory testing of the sampling system was conducted to determine the most effective configuration.Three types of tubing material (fluorinated ethylene propylene, polytetrafluoroethylene, and high-density polyethylene) of three different lengths were tested using a range of lower ammonia concentrations up to 1ppm.Thus far, the best results were obtained using a relatively short (2m) length of fluorinated ethylene propylene tubing, which seemed to show the least amount of ammonia adsorption.Results from the tests will be described in a future technical note.In addition, a relaxed eddy accumulation box that will be used during the field study has been refurbished and tested.For the modeling portion of the study, SURFATM-NH3 has been selected as one of the models that will be utilized by ARL's Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD) to simulate ammonia exchange.Planning meetings with Dr. Sotiria Koloutsou-Vakakis from the University of Illinois and Dr. Chris Lehmann from the National Atmospheric Deposition Program/Illinois State Water Survey were held at ARL's Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD) to discuss the field study. While at ATDD, Dr. Koloutsou-Vakakis presented a seminar entitled "Quantifying emissions of primary fugitive PM and secondary PM precursors," and Dr. Lehmann visited the AIRMoN site at Walker Branch Watershed. ATDD participants in the meetings included LaToya Myles, Tilden Meyers, Rick Saylor, Mark Heuer, Daryl Sibble and Jason Caldwell.latoya.myles@noaa.gov

 

CLIMATE

 

13. FOCAL ľAlaska Study

The Flux Observations of Carbon from an Airborne Laboratory (FOCAL) system was flown across the North Slope of Alaska from August 10-August 29, 2013, following a week of equipment installation at Hanscom Air Force Base near Boston, MA. The Alaska study was based out of Deadhorse Airport in Prudhoe Bay and resulted in 14 data collection flights.A total of 65 hours were flown between the start and end of the experiment to get 36 hours of scientifically useful data. The objectives of the study were to 1) prove the flux measurements of H2O, CO2, and CH4 were being made successfully with the aircraft; 2) survey areas of emissions of CH4 and CO2 from inland melt-water lakes and the Arctic Ocean; 3) provide data to characterize the representativeness of the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) bulk gas column measurements both in the Arctic Ocean and over the tundra to larger spatial scales; and 4) characterize the emissions of CO2 and CH4 around the Prudhoe Bay oil fields.

 

The first objective was met by comparing the fluxes measured by the aircraft to those measured by a ground-based meteorological tower located at 70.08545░ North latitude, 148.57016░ West longitude.This location is approximately 10 miles south of Prudhoe Bay and lies adjacent to an access road approximately halfway between the Dalton Highway and the trans-Alaska pipeline. The meteorological measurements collected on the meteorological tower included fluxes of H2O, CO2, and CH4, global incoming and outgoing radiation, air temperature, and various soil properties, including moisture, temperature at three depths.The tower measurements ran nearly continuously through the month of August.

 

The second objective was addressed by designing flight tracks to fly over lakes in the open tundra and ice in the Arctic Ocean.Several grid patterns were flown over the tundra, and one flight was designed to look for ice north of Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Ocean.However, despite flying approximately 185 km off-shore, there was no ice to fly over.

 

The third objective to support the NRL was met. One flight was flown over NRL sites in both the tundra northwest of Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean north of Nuiqsut during the NRL sampling period.

 

The fourth objective was addressed by flying in a large box shape around Prudhoe Bay at low altitude (< 50 meters) to measure CO2 and CH4 concentrations.

 

Additionally, one flight included maneuvers used to calibrate ARL's Best Aircraft Turbulence probe.Maneuvers included a straight and level flight, a wind box, one yaw left/right maneuver, two wind circles, four phugoid oscillations, three pitch up / down maneuvers, two rapid acceleration /deceleration maneuvers, and two pitch calibration maneuvers. Ed.Dumas@noaa.gov, Ron Dobosy, Bruce Baker

 

In support of the airborne measurement campaign, the ground-based flux tower was installed near Deadhorse, Alaska. The tower was designed to measure the fluxes of CO2, H2O, and CH4, along with supporting soil and climate variables. The solar-powered system recorded data continuously throughout the month of August, and in early September was partially shut down in preparation for low-powered, winter observations. john.kochendorfer@noaa.gov

 

14. Cloud Cover Data

An adjusted and quality-controlled dataset of total cloud cover for 155 U.S. stations was completed and compared to collocated precipitation and diurnal temperature range data. The final data showed improved correlation with the other related climate variables as a result of the reduction of the effects of changes in observing and reporting of clouds. The trends in U.S. cloud cover in the adjusted dataset are significantly lower than in the original data, suggesting that reports of increasing cloud cover from previous studies are in error. A paper entitled "Trends in U.S. total cloud cover from a homogeneity-adjusted dataset" based on this work was submitted for internal review. melissa.free@noaa.gov

 

ARL 4th Quarter Publications

 

Published:

 

Belter, C. W. and D. J. Seidel (2013), A bibliometric analysis of climate engineering research. WIREs Climate Change. 4:417-427. doi: 10.1002/wcc.229.

 

Bowman, K. P., J. C. Lin, A. Stohl, R. Draxler, P. Konopka, A. Andrews, and D. Brunner (2013). Input Data Requirements for Lagrangian Trajectory Models. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 94, 1051-1058. http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00076.1

 

Ikawa, H., I. Faloona, J. Kochendorfer, U.K.Y. Paw, and W.C. Oechel. (2013) Air-sea exchange of CO2 at a Northern California coastal site along the California Current upwelling system. Biogeosciences 10 (7), 4419-4432, doi:10.5194/bg-10-4419-2013.

 

Levy, M. E.,Renyi Zhang, Alexei F. Khalizov, Jun Zheng, Don R. Collins, Crystal R. Glen, Yuan Wang, Xiao-Ying Yu, Winston Luke, John T. Jayne, and Eduardo Olaguer. (2013). Measurements of submicron aerosols in Houston, Texas during the 2009 SHARP field campaign, Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 118, 10,518-10,534, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50785.

 

Early On-Line Releases Published:

 

The paper "Trends in Planetary Boundary Layer Height over Europe" by Y. Zhang, D. J. Seidel, and S. Zhang was published in an early on-line release in the Journal of Climate. The study presents the first estimates of trends in the height of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) using daily radiosonde observations at 25 European stations during 1973-2010.The height of the PBL is often used in climate and air quality studies to characterize convective and turbulent processes, cloud entrainment, and air pollutant dispersion and deposition. In general, a deeper PBL means greater vertical mixing and lower surface pollution concentrations; Most stations show statistically significant increases in daytime heights in all four seasons, but fewer show statistically significant trends in nighttime heights. Daytime height variations show an expected strong negative correlation with surface relative humidity, and strong positive correlation with surface temperature at most stations studied, on both year-to-year and day-to-day time scales. Similar relations hold for long-term trends: increasing daytime boundary layer height is associated with decreasing surface relative humidity and increasing surface temperature at most stations. The extent to which these changes are regionally representative or local reflections of environmental changes near the observing stations is difficult to ascertain.

 

The paper "A study on nocturnal surface wind speed over-prediction by the WRF-ARW model in Southeastern Texas" by Fantine Ngan and collegaues was published in an early on-line release in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology.The authors investigated the over-prediction of surface wind speed during nighttime by the WRF-ARW model for a period of the Second Texas Air Quality Study. In coastal regions of southeastern Texas, the model had significant increase of wind speed biases on the surface in the evening on certain days. The study area was subjected to a weak easterly/southeasterly flow in the low troposphere and was favorable for sea breeze which brought a southerly/southwesterly onshore flow to the near-surface levels. The downward sensible heat flux was over-predicted at night and a warm bias in surface temperature was observed. The vertical gradient of wind speed in the lowest 150 m was smoother in the model than it was in the observations; this could be attributed to excessive downward mixing. Sensitivities using different land surface and PBL schemes showed that the model's over-prediction of nocturnal wind was still present despite improvements in the predictions of surface temperature and sensible heat flux.

 

The paper "Eight years of forest-floor CO2 exchange in a boreal black spruce forest: spatial integration and multi-temporal trends" by D. Gaumont-Guay, T.A. Black, A.G. Barr, T.J. Griffis, R.S. Jassal, Praveena Krishnan, N. Grant and Z. Nesic was published online by the Journal of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. The work is based on 8-year period (2002 to 2009) automated net forest-floor CO2 exchange measurements made in a mature (130 years-old) boreal black spruce forest. These observations offer important insight into the biophysical controls on spatial patterns and multi-temporal trends of the net forest-floor CO2 exchange, soil respiration, gross forest-floor photosynthesis and their interannual variability.

Awards, Honors, Recognition

 

The Council of NOAA Fellows recently elected Dian Seidel (ARL) and Rick Methot (NMFS) as incoming chair and vice-chair, respectively, to serve two year terms (FY14 and 15), succeeding Paul Sandifer (NOS), the first chair of the Council. Established in 2011, the Council consists of all NOAA Senior Scientist (ST) and Senior Leader (SL) employees and serves to support and advise the NOAA Administrator, leadership, and Research Council on options and decisions aimed at fulfilling NOAA's strategic goals with respect to conducting innovative science and research initiatives.

 

LaToya Myles was appointed as chairperson of the Diversity Committee for Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. As chair, she will lead the committee in making recommendations to the Sigma Xi Board on issues and policy relating to under-represented groups within the Society and within the science, mathematics and engineering community as a whole.

 

Outreach

 

Rick Saylor attended the final project presentations of students participating in the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS) Computational Science for Undergraduate Research Experiences (CSURE) program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  JICS is a joint effort of the University of Tennessee and ORNL to advance scientific discovery and state-of-the-art engineering and to further knowledge of computational modeling and simulation by contributing to the education of a new generation of scientists and engineers well-versed in the application of computational modeling and simulation for solving the most challenging scientific and engineering problems.  The CSURE program links a group of undergraduate students with mentors over nine weeks during the summer to explore emergent computational science models and techniques proven to work in a number of data and computer intensive applications using the supercomputers at the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) located at ORNL.  Rick Saylor co-mentored James Herndon, a student from New Mexico State University, with Prof. Joshua Fu at the University of Tennessee to use the NOAA Atmospheric Chemistry and Canopy Exchange Simulation System (ACCESS) model to investigate the impact of automobile emissions on the formation of ozone in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Results and further analysis from the work performed by Mr. Herndon will be documented in a future journal publication. rick.saylor@noaa.gov